Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost
September 6, 2020
 
Dear Companions on the Journey:
 
I wish you and your family deep peace and a place to rest comfortably this weekend. The promises of Dallas Raines (is that really his name?) is that the weather this weekend will top 110° each day. I pray too for no rolling blackouts – which means we all must do what we can to cut back on our use of electricity.
 
St. John’s School started up again this week! On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday students came with families to meet their teachers and to get familiar with classroom location and with the new rules governing the COVID-19 precautions. On Thursday we welcomed gladly some of the first through sixth graders. I say “some” because there are families who wish to keep their children home at this time until, I presume, there is a viable and available vaccination. With those students present, together with the seventh and eighth graders who are also at home, St. John’s presented a teaching environment spanning both in-person classes and those online.
 
Patrick McHonett, our Head of School, has in his short tenure, proven himself more than capable of leading St. John’s School, even and especially in the demands of leadership that this year has required. The School Committee chose wisely in selecting Patrick. His maturity and farsighted leadership are creating a measure of comfort for parents and teachers in tenuous times. The machinations for creating a safe learning environment in the current environment are myriad. Together with the teachers and staff — all of whom are dedicated to making this work — the EXTRA work being done by Patrick in the name of the school and for the children is mind-boggling. By choosing some of the young, tech-skilled teachers, even the most tech-resistant educators have mastered some tricky software and hardware to make the plan work. Watching all this take place is thing of beauty and a blessing to all of us.
 
We, the people who worship at St. John’s Church, have as our highest corporate priority in ministry the work and success of the school. I cannot testify as to the motives of Fr. Stillers back in the late 1980s. However, it is just as clear now as it must have been to him 40 years ago that the impact of Episcopal schools reaches deep and long into the life of the community. It was not then, nor is it now, how many Episcopalians come out of the eighth Grade at St. John’s. Rather, it is what values are instilled in the children who attend and how they apply them in their lives after St. John’s. In other words, we are not building a city for Episcopalians, but instead the City of God – where the hungry are fed, the poor hear good news, the homeless are housed and the estranged are welcomed. That requires educating children who can see the world around them, know its potential, and with intellect and bravery do all they can to change what is possible into what is real.
 
This is also what you and I are called by God to do, sisters and brothers, as baptized members of the Christian Church. We are not members who want to create more members; Episcopalians are not motivated by numbers and pledges. Instead, when we became members of the Episcopal Church, we chose to enter into a lifestyle defined by Jesus the Christ; a lifestyle that works tirelessly to feed, welcome, heal, and to house the people of the world.
 
Having a school partnering with us on a common quest will enhance the quality of life for the graduates, but also will equip them to work alongside us to heal a world torn by racial divides, gender-based bias, religious intolerance, and the inability to accept different opinions. It doesn’t get any better than that!
 
Please continue to pray for the school: for Patrick, for the teachers, staff and students; for the parents and support necessary to keep St. John’s as a vanguard of top-quality education, and of enduring values that will do nothing less than change the world.
 
Weather permitting and when we have sufficient requests (more than 20 members), we gather in person at St. John’s in the courtyard at 6:30 p.m. for Eucharist. We meet in the fountain courtyard next on Saturday, September 12. The reservation link will be available Sunday morning for the following Saturday on the church home page. Reservations need to be made by Friday, September 11. It is a joyful gathering and I hope to see you next week, temperature permitting!
 
We follow protocols recommended by the State of California, from temperature-taking and answering a brief questionnaire about your general health, to social distancing and making available sanitation stations.
 
Our schedule of ZOOM services remains the same: 
• Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we pray Morning Prayer at 9 a.m.
• Nighttime Prayer is prayed on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
• Bible Fellowship (open to all) continues on Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m.
 
To ensure participants’ online security, we don’t publish the ZOOM link; if you did not receive the church-wide email from me with the links and would like to attend services, please email me and I’ll add you to the e-blast, and send you the links
 
The Adult Formation program is slated to start again in a few weeks. We’ll get the info to you in a later email and online. If interested, you would be well prepared if you and read the book, I’m Still Here; Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown.
As always, I have my office hours online on Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m. This is meant for general communication for any who come by. If you need to speak to me on a private basis, email me and we can find some common time.
 
Rev. Karen has her office hours on Thursday morning at 10 a.m. at a NEW LINK.
 
Peace be with you, Christopher+